Potential George Zimmerman juror dismissed over Facebook post
Updated On: Jun 13 2013 06:13:06 AM EDT
George Zimmerman's attorneys have confirmed on Wednesday that they have eliminated a possible juror in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial over a Facebook post.
Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara said that potential juror, 55-year-old unemployed painter and guitar player Jerry Counelis, told attorneys that he only decided Zimmerman should have been arrested after he was arrested. The posting was found on Facebook more than two weeks before Zimmerman was arrested.
The March 21, 2012 posting was on the Facebook page called "The Coffee Party Progressive," a website brought up to "bring justice to Trayvon."
The posting said, "with the noise we made, it couldn't be covered up," referring to the shooting death of Martin. O'Mara said the juror didn't disclose the Facebook post during questioning.
O'Mara, tells Local 6 "we're very glad that our research uncovered the information before we put a juror on the panel that would be very problematic."
The court said four jurors were dismissed on Wednesday, leaving 20 potential jurors.
Attorneys trying to narrow down a pool of potential jurors have questioned dozens to find people who hadn’t heard of the case or hadn’t formed opinions.
On the third day of questioning in jury selection, attorneys have asked more than a dozen people about how much publicity on the case they have been exposed to.
In the jury selection process established by Judge Debra Nelson, once 30 jurors have been questioned about pretrial exposure and have not been dismissed for cause or hardships, they'll be brought together as a group for broader questioning. Nelson will then throw out any jurors that she does not believe can sit on the jury. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will then each get 10 peremptory challenges, in which they can also eliminate jurors.
A total of 75 jurors have been dismissed during the selection. Six jurors will be returning on Thursday to be questioned. 10 jurors were questioned on Wednesday-- six women and four men for about 45 minutes on average.
Thus far, it has been difficult for Zimmerman's attorneys to find potential jurors who hadn't heard something about the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by the neighborhood watch volunteer.
Several prospective jurors on Wednesday had strong preconceptions about the case.
"One of the opinions I expressed was that I did feel that, initially, the police should have been a bit more proactive in their interaction," one juror said.
Another told attorneys he already believes Zimmerman broke the law when he shot and killed Martin, even if Zimmerman says he was defending himself.
"Murder is murder, even if you're in self-defense," the juror, a young white man, said. "It still doesn't make it right to kill someone."
Other prospective jurors seemed more open-minded.
"From what I've heard, it sounds like there was some kind of struggle," another juror said. "Whether there was or not, I guess you really have to see the evidence."
The second prospective juror, a younger black woman, said her friends invited her to attend protest marches demanding Zimmerman's request but she didn't go.
"To then go ahead and turn around and say that black people are being victimized or that he was targeted because he was looking shady or something like that, it was a little, I guess, overwhelming," she said.
Another juror, identified as R-39, admitted he would have bias in the case calling it a "one-way story. Dead men tell no tales." He was dismissed and will likely not be called back.
Some jurors said they felt the national media and activist firestorm was unnecessary and that the role of racism in Martin's death was overstated.
"I think I felt that there probably were not the racial overtones in the actual event that the national media seemed to want to make because of Sanford's past," one juror, an older white woman, said.
"If I were someone prominent or famously known I don't know if I'd make something like this a racial issue and put my name on the line for something I have not seen everything or I do not know all the facts," another juror said.
But some potential jurors said they weren't concerned with the facts.
"I know this going to sound bad but I didn't care about it," a juror said. "It didn't involve me didn't involve anyone I know about."
Before the start of jury selection on Wednesday, Nelson asked Zimmerman a series of questions to which he only replied, "Yes, your honor." The questions centered around the questionnaire prospective jurors are filling out and whether he's discussed the process with his attorneys.
Zimmerman said he was satisfied with how jury selection has been going so far.
Martin's family held a news conference on Wednesday after court was recessed for the day, addressing comments made in the media and applauding the potential jurors.
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